They all have their own journey through the sport and through climbing and they all tackle it in unique ways. We're celebrating that. We've put together strands of interviews and insights into their climbing lives. Get to know some of the personalities behind the powerhouse athletes of GB Climbing.
MEET: The GB Climbing Senior Women's Team
MEET: The GB Climbing Senior Men's Team
MEET: The GB Paraclimbing Team
Max 'The Future' Milne
Current British Bouldering Champion
🗨️ "The moment I'm on, as soon as I'm in the warm up area, it's like someone's flipped the switch and my mind goes calm. You don't think much. It's like, I've done all the training and I know what I've got to do and now it's just about breathing and letting it happen. Just that feeling of being behind the mats, coming out for finals, you're last out and you know people have done it and you're just there with your chalk bag. You take a deep breath and walk out to the big crowd. Even though the crowd's right there behind you, it's like they're not even there, you forget. It's just you and the boulder. Which is amazing."
WATCH: Max Milne just before he was crowned 2021 British Bouldering Champion
🗨️ "People know me as G. I go to univeristy at Sheffield where I'm in my third year but I'm originally from Bristol. I basically came to Sheffield for the climbing, but I'm also really into studying chemical engineering - so a mix of both, but Sheffield was the first choice because of the climbing.
Before coming to uni, I didn't really boulder or climb that much outdoors. Since being here I've really enjoyed climbing outside. Especially last year during the pandemic. It was really nice to have a break fom competitions and explore the outside a lot more. Now I've done so much in the Peak District that I didn't even know was there in the first year.
I love competitions. None of my family climb so for me it was the obvious way to get into climbing. It's been 12 years now that I've been competing and I've been in the team for half of that. It's been pretty much a way of life and I've now for friends all over Britain and all around the world.
I actually don't really want to go to the Olympics because I'm definitely much more of a boulder specialist, which is quite a rare thing to say right now! A lot of my fellow competitors are just gunning for 2024. For me, its about making the transition from Junior to Senior level and just giving it my best shot and hopefully coming away from some internationals feeling like I've done all I can and that was my best effort."
FOLLOW: Gwyneth on her transition into the Senior Team
Five-time national champion at only 20 years old, Molly has been a super strong asset to GB Climbing for many years now. After becoming the first British woman to win a medal in an IFSC Lead World Cup she came back incredibly strong from a ruthless finger injury in 2017 that took open hand surgery and eight months to recover from, and took home gold at the British Lead Climbing Championship in 2018.
Are you still excited about the Olympic Games?
Totally! I’m really excited for my friends who have qualified as I now know personally how much hard work it takes to even just try out for a place at the Olympics. And, of course, it’s great to see climbing in such a prestigious and popular event - hopefully a whole new generation of climbers are inspired!
Do you feel like you’re ready for comps again?
It’s always hard to tell if you’re ready or not before your season begins! But I’m feeling strong and have a better relationship with climbing than ever before – the last year made me really appreciate the space competition climbing held in my life!
You’re renowned for your upper body and finger strength! What advice would you give to climbers and particularly women who want to be as strong as you?
Don’t be afraid to start this journey! Have a good mix of exercises in your training – including ones that challenge you but also ones that make you feel good and strong! Don’t overdo the training – if you’re trying to get stronger you’ll want to be doing intense workouts so rest and recovery will be key.
What are your ways to overcome negative thoughts on body image and how the media and social media portrays women?
I have to remind myself constantly that my focus should be on what I can do with my body and what my body can do for me rather than how it looks. It’s almost impossible not to compare yourself to others – especially on social media – but I try to follow accounts that promote body confidence and remind me that none of this is a competition!
What's your current or next big project in the UK?
I’m currently putting some time into ‘Hubble’, a route that barely needs an introduction! It’s been on my mind for years, but only recently have I felt confident and ready enough to get on it!
Climbing 9a at just 17 – the youngest Brit to climb the grade at the time – Will was well on his way to becoming one of the top athletes of GB Climbing. In 2018, he became the first British male to reach the final of an IFSC Lead World Cup since 1998 and in 2021 he claimed the first ascent of King Capella which makes him the first Brit to climb 9b+.
Has your training been impacted by COVID-19?
Of course, training has not been the same due to the restrictions put in place to tackle COVID but I have been supported by my coaching team at Lattice to be able to adapt my training and keep myself in shape.
What does the future of climbing now look like?
I think the future is really exciting. More people are climbing now than ever before and our knowledge of training has never been bigger so I think at the competition level, we will see elite climbers pushing themselves more than ever before. Obviously, the priority for me is to make sure I am amongst that group!
Are you still excited about the Olympic Games?
Of course I am, I absolutely love watching the Olympics and being able to watch the sport I love in the Olympics will be amazing!
When will you start training for Paris 2024?
I am always training! Yes training for qualification has already begun and I cannot wait for the competition season to get underway.
How do you juggle climbing indoors with climbing outdoors?
I think there is a misconception that training for competitions and climbing indoors are increasingly becoming mutually exclusive whereas I believe that they go hand in hand. The big priority for me is to work closely with my coaching team to make sure I am where I want to be at different stages throughout the year so I can achieve my goals.
What's your current or next big project in the UK?
Steve Mcclure’s Mutation at Raven Tor! This route is incredible and probably the most consistent climb I’ve ever tried, Steve first ascented Mutation a month before I was born back in 1998 and it’s still not seen a repeat! I’ve actually been trying this route whenever I’ve had time for the last 3/4 years already! It’s been a really tough battle so far but I think I’m very close to sending it now so I’m hopeful it will go soon.
FOLLOW: Will Bosi on his training journey to Paris 2024
Shauna Coxsey MBE
The only GB Climbing athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Shauna Coxsey has all the support of the nation behind her to win one of the very first medals for climbing in the history of the Games. Shauna has won every single British Bouldering Championships she’s entered and came third to win the bronze medal in the IFSC Combined World Championships in 2019, the same event where she qualified for the Olympics.
🗨️ “I remember the day I qualified for the Olympic Games. I remember the overwhelming sense of joy that was shrouded in disbelief and an all-encompassing sense of relief. It wasn’t expected. The entire world of competition climbing battling for the few Olympic spots that were available and there I was with one of them. I sat in my room that night trying to take it all in. I sat there exhausted, my body bruised and weary, feelings of confusion and excitement in equal measure engulfed by the sense of accomplishment. The journey to get to that qualifying event, the 2019 world champs in Japan, was brutal and harder than maybe I even let myself realise. The event itself was even harder. It was savage and one of the hardest things I’ve yet to experience. Competing nine days almost back to back. It was relentless and unforgiving, qualifying at this event felt so unrealistic. Yet it happened.”
Latest surgery in early April
“I was at the hospital for more treatment to get my back fixed up. I’ve been on a journey with this one. I’ve had pain in my back since having an epidural for my knee surgery last summer. We are managing to train around it and thanks to my amazing team I feel so good on the wall despite the challenges!”
Activities other than climbing
“In 2019 I was elected as Vice President of the IFSC Athlete Commission (AC) and therefore I sit on the IFSC executive board with the AC President Sean McColl. We work to ensure the voice of the athletes is heard and that athletes are included in the development of our sport.
“There’s a fair bit more that I do too and would like to talk about more! I am a trustee for the charity Climbers Against Cancer (CAC) and have recently been doing a lot of work with the other amazing trustees; we have a few new items coming to the website soon and we are so excited about the future of CAC. I’m also director of the Women’s Climbing Symposium (WCS) alongside Emma Banks and Rebecca Ting who have been putting on some incredible virtual events recently.”
Abbie is a gold medalist at the IFSC World Paraclimbing Championships 2018 and 2019, Paraclimbing World Cup 2018 and Paraclimbing Masters 2019.
"As part of GB Climbing, I'm lucky enough to experience competitions with a family behind me that will support me regardless of the outcome and there's absolutely nothing like that feeling. I've seen so many people, like me, find their confidence and strength through paraclimbing. It's such a beautiful thing to witness and I'm incredibly passionate about helping as many people find that same confidence that I did."
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GB Climbing is supported by the BMC, Mountaineering Scotland and Secur-it. Many UK walls also support the GB Climbing team through free or subsidised entry.